Here’s how to bake these gigantic chocolate chip cookies for yourself
I’m not one who usually subscribes to the saying “bigger is better”.
As another saying goes, “good things often come in small packages”.
Take my hometown. I grew up in Melvin, a town of about 200 people in northwest Iowa. Back in the 1970s, Melvin had a slogan, “Small, but mighty,” and we lived it.
The high school athletic teams were state tournament regulars, competing against much larger schools in Des Moines and Dubuque. We were told time and time again that our small town kids were as good as anyone anywhere.
And we believed it.
We weren’t alone either. Our culture is full of praise for all the little things.
David always defeats Goliath. The Hickory Huskers have consistently beaten South Bend Central. The Karate Kid still defeats Cobra Kai.
Add to that all those Hallmark movies where women always choose the small-town lumberjack named Jake over the townsman, and you’ve got a lore that seems to affirm that notion of “small, but mighty.”
Unless that’s not the case.
Americans like big things. We build big houses and drive big cars. Fast food restaurants tout the size of their burgers with names like “Whopper” and “Big Mac.”
Here in Iowa, we regularly stop at roadside attractions that promote “the world’s largest popcorn ball” (Sac City) or “the world’s largest frying pan.” ‘State’ (Brandon).
So while “Small but Mighty” may be what we want to believe, “Bigger is Better” is the most appropriate slogan for our country.
Even I can succumb to this feeling on occasion. Take my love for chocolate chip cookies.
This classic cookie was first created in 1939 by Ruth Wakefield in Whitman, Mass. Since then, all sorts of variations have emerged, including my family’s favorite recipe that adds oatmeal and Rice Krispies to the expected chocolate chips.
Other variations make the original cookies crispy or soft. However, they all have one thing in common: size. Most are between three and five inches in diameter and weigh a few ounces, making them perfect for a snack with milk or coffee.
I was perfectly happy with such a cookie until we took a trip to New York years ago. We stopped at a Manhattan bakery known for its huge chocolate chip cookies.
Seriously, these cookies were anything but ordinary. Loaded with chips and nuts, these cookies weren’t for the faint of heart. They quickly became a “must-have” on all subsequent trips to the city.
Strangely, I never thought of trying to recreate these cookies at home. I was content with my cookie recipes, and I didn’t think I needed another one.
Over the past two years, however, as the COVID-19 pandemic has made travel a challenge, I’ve found myself craving those cookies all over again. So, I turned to where we all turn to these days: the Internet.
Unsurprisingly, I found many sites that claimed to recreate these NYC favorites. The recipe below is the closest I think. If you dare to try them, however, be aware of a few things.
First of all, you won’t get a lot of cookies with this recipe. One batch equals exactly eight cookies. Of course, these cookies are huge in size. Still, don’t expect this recipe to make enough cookies for a crowd.
Second, they take two days to make. Most of this time is spent in the refrigerator. The recipe calls for chilling the dough for at least 12 hours or overnight. This is important for several reasons. This standing time gives the liquids time to absorb the flour. It also helps shape the dough.
Third, these cookies taste best when served warm. So if you don’t eat them all right away (and who could?), you can reheat them by wrapping them in foil and popping them in a 350 degree oven for a few minutes.
I won’t claim that this recipe is going to replace my old favorites, which still hold a place in my heart as the best cookies ever. Nonetheless, every once in a while when I’m craving something different and New York stays out of reach, I bake a batch of these cookies.
In other words, I can live in a world where David and Goliath can coexist peacefully.
Giant chocolate chip cookies
I found this recipe on the Serious Eats website.
I made some slight changes to the original recipe. Serious Eats calls for shaping the dough into balls, wrapping each in plastic, then refrigerating for 12 hours. I just couldn’t bring myself to waste so much plastic wrap. So, I pressed a piece of plastic wrap directly over the dough in the bowl, then refrigerated it. I let the bowl sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before trying to shape it into individual cookies. Then I refrigerated the shaped dough balls again (while they were on the baking sheet) while the oven preheated. I think they went very well.
- 1 stick butter, room temperature (½ cup)
- ½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
- ½ cup white sugar
- 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt (if using table salt, cut the amount in half)
- 1¾ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Pinch of ground nutmeg
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 2¼ cups flour
- 15 oz. chocolate chips (I used about 10 oz semi-sweet chocolate and 5 oz milk chocolate to give them a more complex flavor)
- 8½ oz. toasted pecans, chopped (you can also use walnuts)
Combine the first eight ingredients (nutmeg butter) in a mixing bowl. Mix on low to combine, then increase speed and mix for another 8 minutes until batter is light and fluffy.
With the mixer running, add the eggs, one at a time. Stop scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl between the eggs. Reduce speed to minimum and add flour all at once. Once the flour is incorporated, add the chocolate chips and nuts. Mix until the chips and nuts are evenly distributed in the batter.
Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the dough and refrigerate for about 12 hours (or up to a day).
The next day, take the dough out of the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes. While you wait, line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Shape the dough into even balls about 6 oz. each. Do not put more than 4 balls of dough in each mold because the dough will spread in the oven. Refrigerate the shaped dough balls on the baking sheet for about 30 more minutes (or just while the oven preheats).
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake one sheet of cookies at a time for about 21 minutes (they should be light to medium brown in color). Repeat with the second set of cookies.
Cool the cookies directly on the baking sheet.